Awakening the transformative; an autoethnographic exploration of implementing learning and development in the Irish mental health world

O'Shea, James (2019) Awakening the transformative; an autoethnographic exploration of implementing learning and development in the Irish mental health world. [Doctorate by Public Works]

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The purpose of this context statement is to critically appraise the contribution of previously published public works to my field of professional practice within the mental health world. Critical autoethnography is the method of choice for evaluating the contribution of selected learning and development initiatives which are concerned with changing professional practice. My relationship with the public works is made explicit through an exploration of my personal, professional and socio-cultural roots, the foundations upon which the works were forged, fashioned and came to life. In turn, the public works are presented against the socio-cultural and professional worlds from which they emerged, including the policy, professional, and economic milieu which provided the background for their genesis and implementation.

The context statement, incorporating findings from the autoethnographic analysis and synthesis, is presented in the form of a metaphor of one day (24 hours) of journeying with the public works, and it seeks to immerse the reader in both the analytic processes and synthetic interpretations. The autoethnographic process is captured in the form of selected journal entries and reflections.

Key learning arising from this analysis relates to engaging with the policy context, highlighting practical considerations of implementation, maintaining contextual awareness, teaching for transformation, contributing to evidence, valuing person centeredness and collaboration, acknowledging organisational issues, developing a particular leadership style, and being aware of battle weariness within the public service domain. This learning is further subjected to the eye of critical autoethnography, bringing to the surface deeper insights and awarenesses that include processes of change and transformation: ‘the way we do things’, the imposter phenomenon, personal tensions, ‘command and control’ dynamics, and ‘covering our asses’. Emerging from this reflective process, key signposts for future works are identified. They relate to creating practice-based evidence, project management processes, and questioning our understandings of transformative learning.

Developing and implementing public works in the Irish mental health world demonstrates that, for such works to have truly transformative potential, we must move from the mundane and the banal to our reflexive edge and beyond. We must step out of our comfort zones and ask ourselves the difficult questions, the questions that wake us up at night, the questions that transform our understanding of ourselves and the personal and professional worlds that we inhabit. We must look beneath and beyond; we must celebrate the wonder and contemporaneously ‘embrace the underbelly’; we must expose our broken models and awaken the transformative in ourselves and others.

As well as making a significant contribution to my own learning, this statement captures the contribution of the works and provides a clear methodological path for colleagues undertaking similar initiatives in the future.

Item Type: Doctorate by Public Works
Research Areas: A. > Work and Learning Research Centre
B. > Theses
Item ID: 26850
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2019 09:59
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 19:04

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